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  • Writer's picturethisfoodbangz

Tasting Chiang Mai: from colourful rice to Eating Raw 'Dancing Shrimps'

Updated: Oct 12, 2023

Chiang Mai, often referred to as the "Rose of the North," is a vibrant and culturally rich city in northern Thailand. Nestled within the picturesque mountainous region, it's the largest city in the northern part of the country and a significant cultural and economic hub. Chiang Mai is renowned for its ancient temples, lush landscapes, traditional handicrafts, and a welcoming blend of old-world charm and modern living. Visitors flock to Chiang Mai to explore its historical sites, partake in outdoor adventures, immerse themselves in local markets, and savor the distinct northern Thai cuisine.

Join me on a gastronomic journey through the vibrant city of Chiang Mai, where flavours and experiences intertwine to create a memorable food odyssey.

I personally would suggest using a scooter because it is the optimal and thrilling method for exploring Chiang Mai. And it proved to be the most convenient mode of transportation throughout the province.

Steamed Rice and Chicken: A Simple Delight

My day commenced with a simple yet satisfying Thai meal - steamed rice paired with tender, flavorful chicken and congealed chicken blood. The blend of aromatic spices and tender meat set the tone for the day, leaving me excited for the culinary adventures that awaited.

Crafting Memories: The Silversmith Workshop

Following the delightful meal, I ventured to a nearby silversmith workshop at Wualai District, Chiang Mai's traditional silver-making village just south of the old city, immersing myself in the world of craftsmanship near the Silver Temple. The meticulous artistry and skill displayed by the craftsmen showcased the rich artistic heritage of Chiang Mai. Wat Sri Suphan, also known as the Silver Temple, is a captivating and renowned Buddhist temple located in Chiang Mai, Thailand. The temple is notable for its stunning silver architecture and intricate silver ornamentation, making it a popular attraction for visitors seeking to explore the beauty of Thai craftsmanship and religious artistry.

A Spiritual Pause: Wat Pha Lat Temple

Continuing the expedition, I visited the tranquil Wat Pha Lat Temple, hidden amidst the lush greenery. The serenity of the temple grounds and the spiritual atmosphere offered a peaceful break, allowing me to connect with the spirituality that graces the city.

Wat Pha Lat, often translated as the 'monastery on the inclined rock,' was constructed during the rule of King Kuena (1355-1385). According to the tale, King Kuena and his entourage ascended Doi Suthep, with the king atop his white elephant. Upon reaching the summit, the weary elephant collapsed and passed away. In response, the king decreed the construction of Wat Phra That Doi Suthep on that very spot. Furthermore, he commissioned the establishment of three additional temples on the mountain—each marking locations where his elephant had halted and found repose. Wat Pha Lat was one of these revered sites.

Meena Rice Based Cuisine: A Burst of Colors and Flavors

Lunchtime beckoned, and I found myself at Meena Rice Based Cuisine. As its name suggests, this alfresco restaurant specialises in rice, alongside new spins on Thai classics.

Most of their dishes are garnished with fruits and edible flowers, giving them bursts of colour. Along with the five-colour rice balls, northern-style spicy minced fish salad is a delight. Vegans will enjoy their many options, including the spicy stir-fried eryngii mushrooms. The vibrant array of colorful rice options on the menu intrigued me. I opted for a colorful medley, accompanied by massaman curry fish and a zesty lemongrass salad. The explosion of flavors and textures was a true delight for the taste buds.

Huay Thung Tao Lake: A Culinary Encounter with Dancing Shrimps

As the sun began to set, I made my way to Huay Thung Tao Lake, where I eagerly anticipated the famous "goong ten" - raw dancing shrimp.

Huay Thung Tao Lake is a popular destination for relaxed picnic. Huay Tung Tao Lake is actually a giant man made reservoir located at the foot of Doi Suthep and its where one can find giant man made figurines of animals such as rhino's & King Kong made out of straws.

One of the unique features of Huay Tung Tao Lake is the abundance of bamboo huts and floating restaurants along the shoreline. Visitors can dine in these huts right by the water, providing a charming and relaxing dining experience.

The Story behind the Dancing Shrimp

It had been a day of exploration, filled with cultural marvels and delightful tastes. Little did I know, the day had one more surprise in store - a culinary adventure that would forever be etched in my memory.

Our driver, with a gleam of excitement in his eyes, suggested a visit to savor the local delicacy - the famed "dancing shrimp." The name alone piqued my curiosity and anticipation. Without a second thought, we agreed and followed him to uncover this hidden treasure. As the wheels of our scooters came to a rest, we found ourselves at a tranquil spot by the lake, surrounded by remote huts.

Our driver, seemingly accustomed to this culinary ritual, pulled out a small pot, its lid tightly secured. With a flick of his wrist, he revealed the surprise within - live shrimp, vigorously leaping and somersaulting in a bid for freedom. This was "goong ten" in its truest form - fresh and lively.

In my mind, I had pictured these shrimps sizzling on a grill, but reality took a different course. Our driver casually mentioned that we were about to consume them raw. A surge of surprise and hesitation rushed through me. Raw shrimp? Could I summon the courage to try it?

Undeterred, our driver swiftly prepared the shrimp, adding a dash of hot sauce and a sprinkling of raw onions. With a nonchalant demeanor, he eagerly took a spoonful and tasted the "dancing shrimp" before us. Emboldened by his act, I took a deep breath, scooped a shrimp onto my spoon, and with a mix of curiosity and nervousness, I plunged it into my mouth.

The burst of flavors was beyond words. It was an explosion of freshness, with the shrimp's natural sweetness complemented by the sharp tang of onions and the fiery kick of hot sauce. Ahh who was I kidding it 'DIDN'T BANG'.

Yep unfortunately, it didn't align with my personal taste preferences. The unique texture and taste of the raw shrimp were unexpected, reminding me that culinary adventures can sometimes surprise us.

Chiang Mai, with its diverse culinary offerings and cultural richness, provided a day of discovery and surprise. Each meal and experience, whether savory or unexpected, added a unique chapter to my culinary journey, leaving me with a newfound appreciation for the vast world of flavors and tastes.

To watch what I did on my first day in Chiang Mai click on the video below ⬇

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